Please Don’t Wish Me a Merry Christmas

Okay, so you got your Christmas back. Praise Trump and Hallelujah. Nobody is going to make you say “Happy Holidays,” or display a menorah next to your tree, or take away your God-given Christian civil rights ever again. Hell, nobody is going to stop you from saying that word, or telling that joke, or evading the P.C. police anymore. Put that creche back in the town square. Get Santa back in the classroom along with Jesus. I mean, we non-Christians are going to hell if we don’t get converted and Christianized anyway, so why bother with those bygone ideas of diversity, inclusion and sensitivity? You’ve got your Christmas back, and not just December 25th, but the whole twelve days. Nah, why settle for just that when you can have the world? Get those lights and songs and sales started in November, or, better, October, the whole blessed Christmas “season.” After all, this is a Christian nation again, just like the politicians you listen to say. It’s the way the Founding Fathers would have wanted it, according to the news network you watch. I mean, if you can leave races and genders out when it comes to the rights of the national Constitution, what’s the big deal about leaving religions and non-religions out when it comes to the blessings of a national holiday?

Except that nobody ever made you stop saying “Merry Christmas” to everyone, nobody told you that you had to say or display anything that recognized the faith or culture of any customer or passerby or loved one that didn’t share yours, except maybe your boss or your mother. It was done out of consideration. It was done in an effort to balance the dominance and restrain the imposition of one subculture over others, just like we added holidays and months of recognition and statues and Constitutional amendments. The thing is that “P.C.” gets a bad rap. When I went to school there was no mention of Hanukkah, and we were all asked what we would be getting for Christmas. If you have ever felt marginalized or excluded or devalued, and many have experienced those feelings in far greater ways, maybe you’ll get it.

The intention of “political correctness” was to create safe, comfortable, inclusive, non-biased environments for students, workers, customers and the like, free of racist jokes, hateful words, unwanted actions, denials of self-definition and thoughtless imposition. Obviously, people in their homes, neighborhoods and own businesses can’t be governed by such requirements, they have to do it consciously and voluntarily… even when they get permission not to. I light the kinara not because I’m African American, I put up the Christmas tree not because I’ve assimilated, but out of respect for my son and my friends. I light the menorah not because I’m religious, but because I’m making a statement about who I am, and who I am not. Admittedly I sometimes put up the Christmas tree grudgingly, ever aware of the pressure that Jewish kids, that I was under to give in and join the big celebration that doesn’t even pretend to be religious anymore, thereby allowing it to be nationalized, rather than staying in the lonesome shadows behind all of the Christmas lights and settling for the little presents of dreidels and gelt spread out over eight days. Sure, put Jesus back in Christmas, even if he was born in the Spring. At least that would draw the lines more clearly.

But I also think of the Islamic kids, the Buddhist and Hindu and Sikh and atheist kids, and, perhaps most of all, the Jehovah’s Witness kids. Where do they belong? I think of the depressed and suicidal kids during this time of family festivity, and the impoverished kids in this time of commercialism and gluttony, who in their own ways are also left out and for whom “Merry Christmas” can be a cold slap in the face. I think of the hypocrisy of all of the words about “peace” and “good will” and “sharing” and “harmony” that disappear along with the New Year’s Day hangover, when we go back to war and bigotry and greed and division, disparaging the poor, neglecting the sick, following the tyrant and keeping out the wanderer, just as Jesus would have wanted it.

I know, you’re probably thinking that I think too much, that it’s just some words and some fun. People in the dominant culture always minimize the arguments and the feelings of those on the outside looking in, because they don’t have to look out. “Lighten up, it’s just a joke, where’s your sense of humor?” “It’s just a word, your people use it. Get over it. Making an issue of it is reverse prejudice.” “We can call it a ‘civil union,’ it doesn’t have to be called ‘marriage,’ marriage means something else. It’s really the same thing.” “Why take down the statues? They’re part of our history. You want to wipe out history.” “We can’t change the name of our team. You’re being oversensitive.” “Now it’s men who are the victims.” “We didn’t use to have a problem before all this PC.” “What’s the big deal, Christmas is for everybody.”

It sure seems that “Christmas is for everybody,” since one can’t escape for months all of the Christmas music in the stores and the elevators and one’s favorite rock stations, or all the Christmas-themed TV shows invading one’s living room and interrupting the regular entertainment from which one seeks escape and comfort, or the fact that everything in the whole immediate world closes down on Christmas Day except for the Chinese restaurants and movies, our tribe’s congregation places. But I digress. So, anyway, please don’t wish me a “Merry Christmas.” That’s not who I am. Don’t even wish me a “Happy Hanukkah.” That’s really not who I am either. If you want to wish me something, wish me health and love and friendship and peace… every day equally… and I will happily and merrily do the same.

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